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  1. #11
    NY-MD
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    Questions whirl around gas leak

    Christine Cullen
    Staff Writer

    The investigation into the cause of the carbon monoxide leak that left two people dead in an Ocean City hotel last week continues, as emergency officials work to piece together the events that led to the tragedy.
    Questions have arisen regarding exactly when the carbon monoxide leak could have been discovered at the Days Inn on 23rd Street, where 40-year-old Patrick Boughter of Lebanon, Pa., and his 10-year-old daughter Kelly died on June 27, but emergency officials will not speculate as to what could have happened until the investigation is complete.

    When paramedics responded to the 911 call made by Yvonne Boughter, 36, around 2 p.m. last Tuesday and discovered the two bodies, it was not the first time they had been to the hotel that day.

    Emergency Services Director Joe Theobald said another 911 call came in around 9:30 a.m. from another group of people, who paramedics found with symptoms of nausea and vomiting. The paramedics suspected the flu-like symptoms were caused by a virus, and took the four people to Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin.

    “The appearance at that point was that they had some type of virus, with flu-like symptoms,” Theobald said, adding he believed that is how they were treated at AGH and why the hospital did not inform the hotel of the possible situation.

    Yvonne Boughter told The Patriot News in Harrisburg, Pa., that when she and her family became sick around 1 a.m. the night before, she realized something was wrong and called 911. Theobald said he had no information of a 911 call placed from the Boughter’s room that night, and no ambulance was sent to the hotel at that time.

    A licensed practical nurse, Yvonne Boughter told The Patriot News she “awoke to [Morgan, her seven-year-old daughter] making this horrible screaming noise,” and made the 2:30 p.m. call that brought paramedics and led to the discovery that her husband and other daughter were dead.

    According to the Environmental Protection Agency website, symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. “These symptoms are similar to those of the flu, food poisoning, or other illnesses” it reads, and warns anyone experiencing these symptoms to get fresh air immediately and go to an emergency room.

    “The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning unfortunately are similar to other types of illnesses, with nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing and chest pain,” Theobald said. “So the symptoms alone are characteristic of other illnesses as well.”

    Although the source of the leak has yet to be identified, the carbon monoxide was present in more than just the Boughter’s room at the hotel, Theobald said. Readings were taken throughout the hotel complex, showing varying levels of the deadly gas.

    Theobald said the city is “turning every stone” in its investigation to find the cause of the leak, and send out condolences to the family that was affected by the tragedy.

    “This incident was a tragedy, and we want to do everything we can to prevent any situation such as this from ever happening in Ocean City again,” Theobald said. “It’s going to be a thorough investigation, and we’re going to have all the answers when it’s completed.”

  2. #12
    Senior Member Z06RL's Avatar
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    I've said this on other threads about this situation....there were numerous 911 calls made from the hotel, five other people were taken to the hospital from this hotel and treated (mistakenly) for food poisoning. Never once did anyone become suspicious as to why five people from different rooms in the hotel all became ill with the same symptoms. Not the ambulance personel nor the hospital personel. To me this is the biggest failure and issue. The fact that the people we all rely upon for our care if we become ill in OC don't have the training ,ability , or intelligence to recognize and treat the symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Don't just look at the hotel. These other people fell asleep on the job and dropped the ball and it cost two people their lives.

  3. #13
    myocbeach
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    Grain of Salt

    Diagnosing carbon monixode poisoning is very difficult. Please don't bash on the EMT's who are probably beating themselves up over this incident as it is. Whats done is done and we all need to look ahead to how to prevent this kind of thing from happening again.

    If anything, we should be pushing the local associations or the Department of Health who last inspected the Days Inn. The root of the problem is the status of the Days Inn. The EMTs were only trying to save lives, lets not forget the lack of up-to-date Carbon monoixde dectors is what CAUSED the problem to begin with.

    If anyone is to blame its the Days Inn, not the EMTs who were trying to help and save lives.

    In my very last business class in college my professor once said, "The problem with businesses now-a-days is that they are only treating the symptoms of a much harder to diagnosis internal problem. Doctors don't treat symptoms, they treat virsus ... the root of the infection. When you think you know the problem, stop and think: Is this the actualy problem or is there something much deeper I am not seeing?"

    Be careful not to look only at the symptoms of a tragedy, but the root cause and how to prevent it in the future.

  4. #14
    beachlvr2448
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    I must disagree with myobeach to a point.....Yes Days in Must take some resoponsibility for the incident....However you would think that when multiple people had the same symptons that the hospital would have tested them for a multi issues and not just food poisioning....With the amounts that the hospitals bill people maybe they should have done a bit more testing on there part also although it seems to be a common complaint with patients that they don't get the care that was required.

    And I am sure that the hotel was inspected very well after they put there addition on so who is really to blame...is it the hotel or is it the department of health for not requiring the carbon monoxide dectors in the hotels,motels,and condos.

  5. #15
    Senior Member Z06RL's Avatar
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    Here's the latest:

    Probe Details Mix-Up On Scene of Carbon Monoxide Death
    Shawn Soper

    News Editor

    07/13/2006 OCEAN CITY – Ocean City officials this week announced the results of the two-week investigation into the deaths of two Pennsylvania tourists who perished from carbon monoxide poisoning in their Boardwalk hotel room on June 27, and while the tragedy has been characterized as a terrible accident, there appears to more than enough blame to spread around.

    “This is a terrible tragedy and I’ve been pondering that for two weeks,” said Ocean City Emergency Services Director Joe Theobald during a Monday press conference announcing the results of the two-week investigation. “What we’ve found is that we can point the finger in a number of directions.”

    Patrick Boughter, 40, and his daughter Kelly, 10, perished on June 27 at the Days Inn on 22nd Street after carbon monoxide seeped into their hotel room. Yvonne Boughter, and another daughter, Morgan, 7, were transported initially to Atlantic General Hospital before being sent to Shock Trauma in Baltimore, where they were treated and released.

    Ocean City officials this week held a press conference to announce the results of the two-week investigation. The source of the carbon monoxide leak, which affected the occupants of at least three hotel rooms in the Days Inn and was directly responsible for the deaths of the two Pennsylvania tourists, was an exhaust pipe from the hot water heaters in the basement of the facility, which became dislodged and allowed the dangerous gas to flow into the first-floor hotel rooms.

    Compounding the already difficult situation was a breakdown in communication at the scene between the three different paramedic units responding to numerous calls for assistance from the Days Inn on the morning of June 27, which ultimately caused emergency responders to miss the victims in room 121 where the Boughters were staying and where two of them ultimately perished.

    The first 911 call that morning at 9:27 originated from room 125 where two victims complained they were not feeling well and had symptoms such as headache and difficulty breathing. The first paramedic unit arrived on the scene three minutes later at 9:31 a.m. Because there were multiple victims, including at least two more in room 127, where the occupants were related to the victims in Room 125, a second paramedic unit was dispatched at 9:31 a.m. and arrived on the scene at 9:33 a.m.

    At 9:45 a.m., Yvonne Boughter called 911 from room 121 reporting she and her family were experiencing symptoms consistent with food poisoning. A third paramedic unit was dispatched to the Days Inn at 9:48 a.m., which is when the fateful communication breakdown started.

    The third paramedic unit arrived at 9:54 a.m. and was directed by the first unit to assist with the victims in rooms 125 and 127. Operating under the assumption the first responders had identified all four victims from rooms 125 and 127, the third unit, nor any of the three units, ever checked on the Boughters’ hotel room, according to Theobald.

    “Nobody ever went to Room 121,” he said. “No one ever entered Room 121.”

    Theobald said it remains uncertain exactly when Patrick and Kelly Boughter died, but did acknowledge at least one of them may have been saved if room 121 had been checked.

    “At least one was still alive at 9:45 a.m.,” he said.

    Paramedics did respond to the scene when a 911 call was made at 1:54 p.m. reporting four victims, two of which were deceased. The paramedic unit arrived on scene at 1:59 p.m.

    While the communication breakdown at the scene certainly contributed to the ultimate demise of the two tourists, the dislodged exhaust pipe from the two hot water heaters in the basement was the direct cause. Officials did not know how or when the pipe became dislodged, but what is known is that the malfunctioning pipe pumped extremely lethal levels of carbon monoxide into the firs- floor hotel rooms.

    Ocean City EMS Division Head Captain Chuck Barton said the carbon monoxide readings in the rooms in question measured 800 parts per million, which is off the charts.

    “The lethal level depends on the length of exposure and the dose,” he said. “We become concerned when levels reach 30 parts per million.”

    The June 27 incident was not the first time the Days Inn had a problem with faulty hot water heaters causing carbon monoxide problems for its guests. Just over a year before the June 27 tragedy, Ocean City emergency services responded to the Boardwalk hotel for a complaint about symptoms consistent with carbon monoxide poisoning and the source was identified as faulty hot water heaters in the basement of the facility.

    “In March 2005, the Fire Company responded to the Days Inn for a victim complaining of carbon monoxide symptoms,” said Theobald. “The problem was traced to the hot water heaters and the property owners replaced those particular water heaters. After the 2005 call, they abandoned those hot water heaters and replaced them with new water heaters.”

    The new water heaters installed after the March 2005 incident were still in place on the day of the tragic deaths three weeks ago. They have since been replaced by yet another hot water heater system, this time installed on the outside of the building and not in the basement. Town officials said on Monday the make and model of the hot water heaters at the Days Inn – the Munchkin 199 manufactured by Heat Transfer Products Inc. – are also used in several other hotels and motels in the resort.

    Another one of the problems identified during Monday’s press conference is that carbon monoxide poisoning is not immediately identifiable. The symptoms imitate those associated with several other illnesses and include headache, nausea, dizziness and chest pains, all of which could be diagnosed as something else. In fact, Yvonne Boughter, a nurse, initially reported her family was suffering from symptoms of food poisoning.

    “Carbon monoxide poisoning does not have specific symptoms,” said Barton. “The symptoms reported by the victims were not unique to carbon monoxide poisoning. Because of that, the problem was not immediately identified.”

    After identifying several of the contributing factors in the tragedy, town officials appeared resolute in their desire to make sure every step is taken to prevent a similar incident from happening in the future. One of the first steps in that process was to rework the dispatch policy to ensure field personnel acknowledge their specific destinations and the dispatchers reconfirm the information in a sort of checks and balance system.

    Town officials are also exploring the possibility of implementing an ordinance or some type of legislation mandating the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in hotel and motel rooms. Smoke detectors and now even sprinkler systems are required in public accommodations, but carbon monoxide detectors are not.

    A bill introduced in the Maryland General Assembly this past session would have mandated carbon monoxide detectors in public accommodations, but it failed to make it out of committee. In the wake of the June 27 tragedy, some sort of legislation or ordinance is likely forthcoming on either the state or local level, according to Ocean City Fire Marshal Sam Villani.

    “We’re looking at different legislation from around the country,” he said. “There will be a presentation to the Mayor and Council at some point in the near future.”

    Villani said he could not remember a situation quite like the tragic incident on June 27.

    “In the 30 or more years I’ve been doing this, I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Villani.

    Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan said the immediate focus should be on the family of the victims.

    “This is a terrible, terrible tragedy and our heartfelt sympathies go out to the family,” said Meehan. “This has been a tough time for all of us in Ocean City.”

    Beyond that, Meehan said town officials are charged with the responsibility to ensure any and all steps are taken to avoid similar incidents in the future.

    “Our challenge in this is to find out what happened and ensure it never happens again,” he said.

    All material copyright 2006 The Maryland Coast Dispatch, Berlin, MD. Questions, comments, contact us at editor@mdcoastdispatch.com


    How can a bill that would protect the lifeblood of Ocean City (the vacationers) not make it out of committee? I hate politicians sometimes. Why does it always come down to $$ instead of lives?

  6. #16
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    The bill never passes because the politicians don't have your safety in mind and could care less.

    All about the almighty buck and the business interests that contribute to get them elected.

    Gee that $5.00 per detector price would put the hotels and motels out of business.

    I have one more question why do these business owners have to be forced by laws or regulations why does not one of them install the detectors because they are concerned about the safety of their guests.

    The politicians are frauds. Just give it some lip service and move along.

    From the details in this article I smell a huge lawsuit coming down the pike.

    I just hope the family members can find themselves a real good lawyer.

    This was preventable.

    Days Inn, Ocean City emergency response, and whomever else failed to respond to the room from which the call originated.

    How do you defend their actions????

  7. #17
    Senior Member Z06RL's Avatar
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    A lawyer for sure. Especially after they found that at least one of the victims was still alive when the other two rooms were evacuated. I'd sue every single one of them, from the hotel, to the EMS operator, to the EMS personel, ......anyone I could. My heart breaks for that wife and mother. So very very sad.

  8. #18
    beachlvr2448
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    I do agree with you that the family at this point should sue everyone involved. My sympathy definately goes to his wife and child.

    I leave on Wednesday for a weekend at the beach and yes I'm staying at the Days Inn...I cant wait

  9. #19
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    I would leave a window open for my entire trip........

  10. #20
    Senior Member Z06RL's Avatar
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    From what I understand, the problem has been corrected and everything is now vented outside the building. But what gets me is that city officials declared that the hotel was found not negligent in this matter. WHAT?? Oh well. Hope they can all sleep at night.

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